Babywearing with Jess


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Everyone is entitled to their opinion but do they need to express it?

 

Do you know what one of our main focuses as a society is at the moment? Comparison.

Opinions on stuff that’s got nothing to do with us, things like Facebook have a whole bunch of us focusing on other people’s grass.

And do you know where the grass is greenest?

Where you water it.

 

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I was going to write a post about self-love. About body image. About accepting yourself. Your whole self, imperfections as well.

Because as women we do that badly on the whole. We could blame societal expectations about returning to some ‘pre baby state’ and there is those – I’m not discrediting that, but really it is often us who are our own worst enemies.

Often we are the harshest critics of ourselves.

But it strikes me that it’s maybe not even our bodies we do this to worst – it’s our hearts and minds.

Evident to me every time I delve ever so much more sceptically into my Facebook feed.

This person is getting trolled about that. Another person getting hateful or hurtful comments about this. That event occurs, something horrible happens and the first thing those people affected by it have to deal with is other, random, unrelated people’s opinions on their choices and decisions.

This is so amplified when you add children to the mix. Everyone has an opinion.

Everyone is entitled to an opinion. It’s like our right as people.

Even if we didn’t have freedom of speech or live in a democratic society, you are still entitled to an opinion.

The problem is not with the opinions-the problem is when we focus on everyone else, well firstly our opinions are based on things we know limited information about and beyond that, many times it’s not even relevant to us.

And we express them all over the show. Cause it’s our right, right?

But why is there so much negativity, hate, judgement and insensitivity when we express these opinions online?

Well there is actually lots of science around it. The accessibility, the convenience, the lack of seeing the impact of our words on the other person… All manner of things.

But obviously with fractured ribs, I’ve had maybe even more reflection time on this that I would have ever been able too otherwise at such a hectic time in my life. And for the universe I thank for that, painful and difficult as it has been.

The one thing observing and reflecting on all this did was resolve my ambitions and values and goals that I can look at some serious heavy issues that face many of us and use the voice and platform I have been blessed with to fight for change positively. To do it my own way.

In my attempts to write about the ridiculous expectations we put on ourselves and our body image as women, the amazing campaigners like fellow kiwi Gala Darling and her radical self-love movement, the many other TED Talks I have watched lately like Cameron Russell’s “Looks aren’t everything. Trust me, I’m a model” (a whole bunch included for you at the bottom of this post) and of course the Queen herself, Constance Hall, I realised not only these ladies but other inspirational speakers had some really common themes.

Ones we know so well as a society they are even colloquial sayings… Why do we keep focusing on the negative and why as a society are we not learning from our mistakes?

So what were the common themes?

 

Be Kind

Ideas like practise compassion for yourself and others. This idea again of self-love. Why do we all struggle with this so bad? For the record, I’m not excluding myself from the collective “we” by the way by any means. But this idea about not only being kind to other but compassionate to ourselves is vital I think.

 

“Turns out, we can’t practise compassion with other people if we can’t treat ourselves kindly first”

Brene Brown – TED Talk on Vulnerability

 

Maybe this is what is somewhat contributing to hatefulness online? Is it that we struggle so badly to accept ourselves, flaws and all and love ourselves that we look for outlets like ‘clickbait’ headlines or memes online to express our judgement and bitterness at the world? Like not even considering that may have an impact or influence on someone else? Just because of the nature of the technology even?

Anyway, kindness was a common theme. I feel like I have talked the shit out of kindness so if you want more of my version of this one see the ‘Be Kind Online’ post.

 

“Comparison is the thief of joy”

Ok none of them used that quote, but again it was a really strong theme. Media of any form, be it “social” online, printed mass media like magazines or mainstream TV media- ANY OF IT – it’s all a construction. It’s not real life.

Comparing ourselves to others only focuses on what we don’t have. It’s watering the wrong grass people!

Maybe it is easier for us to forget the constructed, shiny highlight nature of social media because it feels more realistic, because it’s our friends or people we know..? But regardless it’s still constructed, its only one aspect of a greater story.

The mum who uploads the beautiful basket of freshly baked muffins her and her kids made together, with a baby on her back- looks a bit like super mum sometimes right?

 

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Do you know why we took this photo outside? Because the kitchen was literally covered in flour because the “baby” on my back got into the “child proof lid” of our 10kg flour tub, tipped it over and his big brother threw handfuls of it in the air screaming “it’s snowing! It’s snowing!” while I lost my shit screaming for James to come out of his office, stop his work and “FUCK HELP ME PLEASE”…

Needless to say I didn’t include that in the photo description at the time as I was trying to convince myself not anyone else that baking with my kids, a passion of mine, that sharing that with them was still worth the torture of having to spend the next three hours cleaning ten kilograms of flour out of my kitchen as the kids tipped out every, fucking, vessel we filled over and over again.

Fun times… hahah well it is funny now. There was certainly a lot of cursing at the time but my point was, this picture-it only tells one little aspect of that story. It’s a construction. It’s not real life.

Comparing yourself or your situation or your choices or your decisions or anything to others, well, there is a limited amount of positive that can come from that. Compare yourself to you. It’s the only version of yourself you get in this life time and that’s special cause that means there is only one of you.

That goes for family and parenting decisions big time too. I way to often hear about or read judgment or criticism from or towards others simply for making different choices to the person expressing them. I’ve said it before and I will say it again and again; as parents we are all trying to do the best we can for our kids with the resources we have available to us. And different things work at different times for different people and different reasons. That is ok.

Don’t compare yourself to anyone else but yourself. Focus on being the best version of you. Water your own grass.

 

Be Grateful

Again a hugely common theme. Summing it up I guess, if you can’t appreciate what you do have you can’t see the joy in life.

If you focus on what you hate, that’s what you will see. The exact same can be said for if you focus on what you love, that in turn is what you will see.

That statement stands true be it your body image, your self-image, your mental health, your life, your kids – everything…

If you focus on the bad only, all you are going to do is rob yourself of joy.

Another great Brene Brown quote exert here I thought was amazing advice and particularly poignant as I rewatched one of her videos with James last night was, “in those moments of terror, instead of catastrophizing what might happen, just stop and say, I am so grateful because to feel this venerable means I am truly alive” ( I paraphrased a bit there, sorry Brene!)

Practising gratitude in your life in any capacity works to trick you into having a positive perspective, even if your conscience mind doesn’t want to have one 😉

 

Worthiness

You deserve it. You are worthy. You are enough. This message was repeated over and over and over again. To say it was a common theme is actually an understatement.

 

“The relationship you have with yourself is the longest relationship you are going to have. It’s not selfish to care for and love yourself, it’s your responsibility.”

Jenny Schatzle, TED Talk, ‘Rewiring how you look at yourself’

 

This concept of worthiness, like the other three points largely comes down to self talk as well – how we speak to ourselves in our heads.

I also appreciated the no bull shit solution Jenny had for that, “talk positively to yourself, sometimes you have to fake it until you make it, you are who you say you are, change the statements you say to yourself” (again paraphrased a bit there, sorry Jenny).

 

“People go on to say how radically different our world could be if every child was raised with unconditional love and support and I agree. But see I don’t think we need to wait until we raise a whole generation of children, I think we can start right now by making the decision to accept ourselves without any reservation.”

Micheller Charfen, TED Talk – Unconditional Positive Regard

 

We have this thing in Kiwi culture about being humble and this thing we call “Tall Poppy Syndrome” but I loved how Caroline McHugh put it in her TED Talk, “humility is not thinking less of yourself but rather thinking about yourself less”.

Which would lead me to think, if we truly want to be humble then those tenants of kindness and compassion to ourselves and others, not comparing ourselves with others, being grateful and feeling worthy could actually be more likely to help us achieve that.

 

Slow Down

This is such a huge one for me personally. So much so, in my rush to ‘finish’ this piece of writing I missed it off. When I checked my TED Talk notes from all these common themes again and asked myself, “is it really that important?” It was like someone grabbed a giant highlighter and started illuminating the term ‘slow down’ in my notes. Well that was eye opening…

It not only appears in every one of them on some level but in many of them it appeared many times in the one speech. It is truly that important and until I remembered to slow down myself enough to move beyond the “argh I thought I had finished that! Do I really need it? This is going to be heaps long already! Does it add value?” thoughts that it dawned on me – its actually pretty key. In fact it could potentially maybe even have been better placed as the first common point (but fuck rewriting the whole thing now!!)

The modern world we live in was fast paced enough even before we started seeing real life evidence that the internet is literally starting to change the way we think. It’s quicker – we skip steps sometimes, it makes the desire for instant gratification worse.

Not only that but we are all so god damn time poor we try to do a million things at once. We rush from one thing to the next. It’s tiring. And it spreads our attention thin. No one of those million things have your full attention and presence.

It goes for all of the above points too. If we can’t try to slow down, both our bodies and minds, there is no place to be kind to ourselves, there is no time for practising gratitude, there is no thought space for us to tell ourselves we are worthy and there is no opportunity for us to consider WHY we are comparing (when we compare ourselves to others it is an opportunity for insight into what we feel we are missing or needing or judging ourselves for).

 

Loving ourselves, being comfortable with being imperfect, accepting ourselves mistakes and all, being grateful and slowing down. Maybe doing some more of those things in our lives and remembering that the internet is a place that promotes hate and misunderstanding, maybe that could filter through?

Maybe just a little bit? Or maybe just make everyone a little happier and more whole generally?

Maybe if more of us are genuinely happy and focused on being better, whole versions of ourselves, then maybe the tones of the opinions being expressed could change?

Or maybe not….

 

Maybe this post could have just been, if you feel like being an arsehole online, just remember, those words are heard and felt by someone else. And, just, like don’t. Stop it.

Please try to stop the pack mentality. Please be kind in your words. Please don’t judge things you don’t know everything about. Please remember that we don’t all have to agree on everything, if we did the world would be boring.

And remember there is this really real thing called a “vengeful angel”, don’t fight hate with hate. Miserable people thrive on it.

 

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Kindness, compassion not comparison, gratefulness, worthiness and slowing down.. That’s what we could really all benefit from remembering before we interact with each other online particularly I think… ❤

 

 

 

 

 


 

FURTHER CONTENT & VIDEOS

Here is some of the great TED Talks I have been watching and recommend on this topic:

 

The power of vulnerability | Brené Brown- https://youtu.be/iCvmsMzlF7o

 

Radical Self Love: Gala Darling at TEDxCMU 2012- https://youtu.be/GFXHYtY9ag8

Looks aren’t everything. Believe me, I’m a model – Cameron Russell- https://youtu.be/ks1FEtWlzTU

 

Rewiring how you look at yourself | Jenny Schatzle | TEDxOaksChristianSchool 2016 – https://youtu.be/6DNqKig7Xis

 

How do you define yourself? | Lizzie Velasquez | TEDxAustinWomen2014 – https://youtu.be/QzPbY9ufnQY

 

 

Plus-size? More Like My Size | Ashley Graham | TEDxBerkleeValencia – YouTube

Unconditional positive regard — the power of self acceptance | Michelle Charfen | TEDxRedondoBeach 2014 –https://youtu.be/4tkkL9w2pw8

 

Living without shame: How we can empower ourselves | Whitney Thore | TEDxGreensboro

 

A journey to self-acceptance | Ekaterina Karabasheva | TEDxDonauinsel 2014 – https://youtu.be/vEQs3z8Sydg

 


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Grief, Loss & Acceptance

Grief is a heavy topic to cover, I get that.

And we all have different ways of perceiving the process, rituals and ongoing emotions associated with death, loss and grief. Not to mention different fundamental ideals and understandings about what “life after death” or even “what the point” of life is all about.

But grief and loss is something as people, we can’t avoid.

It is one of the fundamentals of life, you are born and you will die.

Sorry, again, I know that concept alone freaks some people out.

But it does happen to all of us.

And furthermore, someone doesn’t even actually have to die for you to feel grief or loss over something. As people we can feel loss at a failed project, we can feel grief over at the end of a relationship breakdown, fuck we all often feel grief over losing hopes and dreams of ideas or concepts of the ways you wish or expected things might have been.

And given this is something we will all face most of us will experience grief and loss in some form or another many, many times in our lives, but we are terrible as a social cohort about talking about it.

I’m not even talking about actually talking about death, don’t even get me started there, that’s a whole different post in itself. But just grief and loss alone.

I post about my Dad and other members of my life who are no longer with us because it keeps their stories and their memories relevant in my life.

If I don’t talk about them, create stories about them for the generation that never knew them, well, its like a fate worse than death, its like banishment. It’s like they didn’t exist.

And there had been stacks of research on how social media and other online formats can be really helpful for grief and how one might process it on an individual level.

But being vulnerable and sharing stories of grief and loss online isn’t me NOT coping, in fact, it’s the exact opposite.

 

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There is ultimate beauty in imperfection…

 

Being vulnerable in life, having the openness and courage to be truly ok experiencing and living through (as well as talking about) the lows, gives us this ultimate opportunity to actually experience the amazing joys and happiness and euphoric fun and all the highs at different times as well.

Me talking about the biggest losses in my life, omg of course there are going to be parts of that which are sad. If there weren’t they wouldn’t be the “greatest losses of my life” would they…

But does that mean me and my soul are at that moment I press “Publish” or “Post” are sitting there crying into a pillow in sorrow. No, no, no, no…. not even remotely.

I mean I write from my heart, not from my head in these posts often. In academia and research and business it was always written from my head, but in this form, well you get raw writing from my heart sometimes. People probably don’t even realise, most of my blog posts now, are actually first written by hand. Then I type it… it’s more like selected bits of journal entry if you like…

But there is a key difference – you don’t get it AT the time.

I don’t post something I am feeling vulnerable about when I am still vulnerable about it because, well, because- the internet is mean.

People aren’t nice online.

This isn’t like a surprise or shock to me at all. There are scientific reasons for it.

Psychologists now, unlike in 2011 when we were campaigning about taking these issues seriously (Be Kind Online post) have many different studies and methods and models of why and how the internet does what it does to us.

Not only that they have stacks and stacks and stacks of case studies and stories, of people, and of the real damaging effects these issues have had on them and models and strategies about how to treat some of those.

This is something that despite people being more aware of it, has only got worse in recent years.

But the thing about vulnerability is it makes us uncomfortable because it allows us to truly connect with others.

To me, talking about grief gives it a greater opportunity to transform itself into growth.

Hiding or numbing or running from the very darkest parts of our own experiences means we do the same for the flip side of the coin.

I’m not going to start hypothesising about life after death or varying perceptions or ideas of that here but one thing I do know is that “love is a form of energy that swirls all around us, their love for you has not left this world, it is still inside your heart and is reborn as new love” (like that one? Kid’s cartoon, linked it below, its actually pretty awesome).

But the stories and the characters of the people we no longer have with us, they can only live on through us.

There are my boys and Eden particularly I think of in these kinds of things. I want them to know stories about these people. For my boys their grandfather, for Eden, its her father.

I am fortunate and grateful that I had my whole childhood with an amazing active and involved father as a role model and I know not everybody gets that. Not only death or absence can rob us of those. But as much as I am grateful, it’s also ok to be sad at times.

And it is easy to be bitter. At times before in my life I have definitely been bitter at the hand dealt to me for sure. Not just about my dad or death, but life in general. I was a rather bitter teenagers in retrospect haha. But bitterness gets you nowhere.

 

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Paper boats, butterflies, bubbles, stories… they are ways for me to try channel my grief positively..

 

I don’t tell stories about those no longer with us or write letters to them FOR THEM…

I write them for myself and for those other who are still here missing them too. As a way to both process my grief into growth and to share my vulnerability as a way to connect but also to show others its ok to be vulnerable too.

When a little girl looks up to you mid blowing bubbles at her fathers funeral (your friends funeral) and says, “your daddy is dead like mine, hey?” and I can manage to blow another REALLY deep breathe of bubbles out, tears silently streaming down my face, look at her and smile, “yeah… yeah he is hunny..” and then scoot her in a bit closer to me as we continue to blow bubbles and marvel at them together, that’s both grief and growth.

During that moment I realised something, the person who helped me most when I was in Eden’s shoes, even if I was twenty years older, was another little girl, not much older than Eden at the time.

And the wise little girl who sat with me when it was my Dad I couldn’t get my head around losing had death with her own unfair share of death already in her life journey even at that tender age. She was the one who reminded me his “love is still all around us, when people die we just have to tell more stories about them so others don’t forget about them and their love. That’s all. OMG, look at that HUUUUUUGE bubble!!!”

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Bubbles are magic.

Children are beautiful and wise beyond what many of us give them credit for.

And stories are legacies.

I talk about the people that I’ve “lost” in this lifetime lots because I love them and I don’t want others (including the kids) to forget about them or they love they are swirling around all of us.

Hahah I feel like I should sign off “Namaste” 😛

I’ll leave ya with this instead… Its only ten minutes, watch it, its awesome…

CARTOON EXPLAINING CONCEPT OF CHAKRAS

It’s from a kids cartoon explanation about chakras, its actually really cool but pre warning, maybe a bit scary for little kids, I wouldn’t show my boys right now… But Josh is maybe more sensitive to “scary” stuff in show cause we don’t watch TV but use your discretion…


 

 


 

If you haven’t seen this video which is a TED Talk by Brene Brown about vulnerability its also very much worth watching…

 


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Wedding stress and the top 10 reasons to elope ;)

Six years ago today, my now husband James and I booked and paid a deposit on a wedding venue we never got married at.

You can see from the picture we were pretty stoked to at least have this aspect now “ticked off” our list.

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If you have never planned a wedding, well, let me just say in the simplest, most straight up way possible, it is stressful as fuck.

So just pulling it back to basics right, there is a few things you need for a wedding; two people who want to get married, someone to “marry them” or conduct some kind of service, two witnesses to sign the paperwork, some rings and a location.

When we booked this specific location, well, our wedding plans, like many had become far more complicated than that. For starters, my Dad had died two months earlier and all the plans I had told him about before he died included him walking me down the aisle.

At a friend’s wedding recently I was sitting next to another married friend of mine Kylie, who must have been married just over two years now as I was pregnant with Jai at her and Ari’s wedding even though I didn’t know it at the time.

Across the table from us where some other mutual friends of the bride and grooms and they are currently engaged and wedding planning and asking us about our tips for wedding “success” if you like… Good thing Kylie was there cause my only tip was, “don’t invite anyone”!

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James and I had a whirlwind romance beginning to our relationship, one romantic novels are written about and I have written about this stuff for him in a folder of stories about our first years together which I did in secret for a long time and gave to him on our first wedding anniversary. But today as we talked about how ironic it is we never had that original service and plan eventuate and how bloody glad both of us are that it never happened that way, we first laughed and joked about how much more cost effective it is if none else to elope and how more people should consider it..

But more than that, our wedding had no guests, “a proper elopement” as all the resort staff commented in surprise… And do you know what that made for?

A day purely focused on celebrating our love for each other and the next chapter together.

So here is the top reasons we thought of to elope and not invite anyone to your wedding if it’s not your thing or it all becomes too hard and stressful like it did for us the first time round planning…

  1. It’s about you.

It’s not about who has what dietary requirements, whether you feed guests sit down meals or not? Do you have an open bar or make people pay for drinks? Who is feuding with who and who do we have to sit on opposite sides of the room? Who had issues or problems or accessibility stuff we need to consider? Who do we invite out of obligation and who do we really want there? What does my mum want, what does yours? What does that random family member who always causes a scene need? Blah blah blah…. So much of wedding planning stress is actually nothing about the two of you getting married, it is about the people you are entertaining and including in the day… That’s cool and awesome, but yeah, another option, just don’t invite them… Any of them.. 😉

  1. You can have your wedding on any day of the week or time that takes your fancy..

There are many benefits to point out here… when we did elope we had Josh (our eldest son) with us, he was 18 months at the time, having a morning ceremony meant I know he could nap while we had photos etc… Also, just saying, do you have any idea how much cheaper it is to have a wedding on a Tuesday rather than a Saturday or Sunday..? Yep no guests to consider for has other advantages there too..

  1. Cost advantages

Beyond just the day of the week and not having to pay for others to eat and drink, the whole cost of our wedding, which included things like flights, car hire, private beach house at a resort, five day holiday, room service, honeymoon package, EVERYTHING was still a grand total of probably the cheapest wedding of my friends and family I have heard yet. And we rolled a family holiday and the closest thing to a honeymoon you can get with s clingy breastfeeding toddler in tow, all in one package!

  1. The best of everything!

I was so lucky to have a great wedding planner who helped me with everything. She was part of the resort package. In fact the minute my Mum casually flipping through a magazine saw a story about a couple ‘eloping and not telling anyone until after’ and made a passing comment, “I can imagine you doing that!”, James and I made eye contact across the room, “that’s pretty much permission right there dude” we said to each other with our eyes… that night we researched “best wedding resorts”… I found one that had all the bits we wanted, a wedding planner, a separate beach house you could hire on the water front (but still a 50 meter walk to all the benefits of being in a resort), a honeymoon package, photographers and babysitters they had access too, knowledge of celebrants in the area, a spa and salon on site, a pool, everything WE wanted. It was made so easy for me.

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The Beach House, separate from the resort we had to ourselves for five days!

The wedding planner sent me a template, you need to pick these things, and here are my top three recommendations, that’s it. I just had to pick my favourites. The hardest part of all was not telling anyone we were planning it for the six months out we did… There were a very few people I told, those who were originally going to be my bridesmaids mainly cause I still needed help with some of those calls, being a bride and planning a day like that you will look back on forever is a bit of pressure as much as it is fun and exciting.

Anyway, she told me their off seasons, we planned it during school holidays, just before the “real wedding season” started just out of cyclone season but on the cusp of the busy period. We planned it mid-week, we did all those thing because it meant we were able to have the best of the best, I got all my “first picks” for everything because I wasn’t competing for time slots with others, most of the service providers even gave us discounts!

  1. The intimacy

It’s our love story right? It is a day about us… I know and understand the desire to share that with those you love but at that time in our lives, everyone was still raw and devastated about my dad dying, the last thing he said to me was “don’t let me steal your thunder” so I foraged ahead with the plans we had before he died… but in retrospect, doing so was making him steal the thunder in itself.. Weddings and funerals man, they have the ability to bring out the best and worst in all of us as they are such monumental times and celebrations.

At our wedding there was literally six of us, there were also the wedding planner who came along in the morning to set it up and the two hair and make-up ladies who helped me get ready but the service itself was just us. It was James waiting at the end of the aisle for me, Josh throwing rose petals as I walked down the rose petal aisle while in the capable and caring arms of the babysitter, the photographer taking the photos and our celebrant. The photographer and babysitter where our witnesses.

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Lisa had a son Josh’s age, she came well prepared haha

After the service itself Josh went with the babysitter Lisa who had a son of a similar age to have a play and a sleep while we did photos and then we returned to the beach house and front lawn where we got married hours earlier to drink champagne and finish the photos before josh got dropped back, the photographer left and the resort brought us the first course of our honeymoon package dinner.. It was beautiful..

  1. The relaxed nature

The day before the wedding, the various people helping us (celebrant, photographer, wedding planner, make up peeps, babysitter, everyone) said “Ok, what time is the service?”

We hadn’t planned a time. Why would you need an exact time when no one else is coming? “Umm in the morning? I dunno, what about 10am?” we replied.

So a 10am wedding it was planned to be. This was in Northern Queensland (we wanted to go “offshore” enough that it felt like an overseas holiday, but not too far cause, well travelling with a toddler is hell and also I’m Australian, getting married in Australia made the paperwork easier). The morning of the wedding a cyclone was coming in. It was like grey rolling clouds for half an hour followed by beautiful sunny skies.. As 10am approached, I remember James and Coleen our celebrant standing outside saying, “I think its going to start raining right at 10am hey?” In a normal setting I get that would be kind a bit of a disaster, but we had no pressure from ourselves or others, “well why don’t we get married at 1030am then?” I suggested…

I remember everyone but James’ shock at that moment… When we were talking about it today we both remarked how at that moment and following that, every single one of the people who helped us with our day commented on separate occasion and to both of us, “this is the most relaxed wedding I have ever experienced!”

That might be a personal draw card, but why would you not want that for your wedding? The stress of the wedding day seems to be something we as a society have made to become part of the ritual but why? That element was one of the best facts!

  1. No issues

I didn’t spend the whole time worrying and stressing that my dad wasn’t there to walk me down the aisle. We didn’t have anyone get excessively drunk or be a pain in the arse somehow (which is like a stable at weddings right?). Things like trying to coordinate bridal parties & MC’s, eliminated when you don’t have one haha

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I just had the whole hair and make up stuff done in the lounge so Josh could get used to all the people involved and was part of the process too

More than that, we had an eighteen month old who had only been cared for by other people a handful of times. He was still breastfeeding (a major aspect of my dress selection was “can I pop a boob out if need be? Haha) and some of those aspects in an what can be perceived as overwhelming ritual and event for a little person and for a mum and bride in that process, well a lot of those where eliminated. It was a pleasurable and relaxed event for all involved, including the little person who had been a product of our love for each other in the time since we put off the last wedding plans.

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What are you up to mum?!

  1. No pressure

Like everything in life, everyone has different expectations, I dunno what the battle is for you or the hard part of your wedding plans but for me, like all brides, my dress was something of significance and importance to me. Like I mentioned, being able to pop a boob out as a breastfeeding mum was important to me. But just like lots of other women I had expectations and pressure, if from no one but myself for all of these aspects to be perfect.

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When we had our original wedding plans, the shoes where of huge concern to me.. I dunno why.. I wanted these navy stilettos, my mum bought them for me in fact, I don’t think I have worn them more than once, just to show off to my new husband around the house after we did get married.. but when life changes, and man how life had changed in the two years between those two versions of what we planned our wedding to be, things like the shoes lost significance..

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No pair of stilettos in sight! These kinds of shoes made my heart swell this time

It became less of a “performance” to me, it became more real… More down to earth which totally suits James and I and all that we are together. I took the pressure off myself.. In fact none of us wore shoes at all for our wedding.. It wasn’t about the shoes, or the dress, or my hair and makeup or the rings (well hell obviously it was a bit about those things for me!) or anything materialistic, it was about us… Btw my dress was from ASOS haha I ordered a few “off white dresses” I liked and cause they were like $100 each instead of thousands, I had a choice which was even cooler 😉

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Barefoot wedding

  1. The convenience

Not only in planning and pre-wedding stresses being minimalised but the whole affair was really convenient. I think again part of that was being able to be the star attraction or focus on a day when we weren’t competing for the attention with others. Mission Beach where we got married is like “wedding central”, people travel there from all over the world to get married. The resort we stayed in, well I don’t know how many weddings a year they host, but lots as I said I started my search with “best wedding resorts in Australia”. But the fact we were a random mid week wedding just before peak season, we were actually made to feel like royalty, which is a lovely feeling particularly when you are celebrating your love for one and other. In the days following we did other “normal” tourist stuff and people made comment to us regularly, “oh it’s you guys! That was so beautiful the other day. We saw you out and about taking photos and you just looked so in love”.

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I don’t know how we would have battled the clingy toddler, two hours of wedding photos, service itself, “honeymoon package” which included three course room service to our guest house, a two hour spa package and partners massage thing the next day, the time it takes for make-up prep etc and being away from or trying to balance Josh’s needs alone in that time frame just from my own personal perspective… There were so many aspects made so convenient by just having it with us…

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Safe space for toddler to roam free and someone else to keep an eye on him, perfect.

Some of the traditional aspects, like James not seeing me or my dress right before, these skilled, talented, experienced and empathetic professionals, such as the hair and make-up ladies helped us achieve.. But me being locked away to get my makeup done for hours, why?

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Still did those traditional you can’t see my dress till I walk down the aisle things…

Josh being around meant I could feed him down for a nap before the “service” so he was happy and contented before it started. It all occurring during the morning and daytime which worked for me because when we had finished our photos and everyone left and Josh was dropped back, I breastfeed my baby to sleep and went out to sit with my now husband on our beach front deck spa of a beautiful beach house as part of a resort and eat the epic desert they hand delivered to us..

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The boys getting all ready as I was locked away getting dressed! Nearly time!!

Even the service itself, it wasn’t until that morning the wedding planner said “where do you actually want to get married? Where do you want the service to be?”

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What about here?

James and I looked at each other, “umm… what about the lawn just there?” I asked knowing it provided an amazing back drop but also a space for Josh to run around and be safe if he got bored or even go back into the house to play, all while under the capable and watchful eye of Lisa the babysitter.

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Setting the scene on the front lawn

That’s where we got married. “Some like flags or something at least?” she suggested. “Sure sounds great..” and that’s what we had, convenient was a high priority which mad the stress almost totally eliminated.

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The flags were a great idea, and helped distract the toddler haha

  1. The love

I am not knocking traditionally ways of marriage or the service or indeed any of our beautiful friends & families ceremonies and services they have loving included us in in recent years but for us, this was one of the best decision’s we ever made. It was my mum we were most worried about her reaction, do you know what she said when I did tell her the day before, “Good for you” and not in a mean or bitchy way, in a sincere, that’s awesome for you guys sense. Getting engaged days before my dad died was both a blessing and curse, I got to tell him, I got to share with him my plans and excitement and everyone commented on how excited he was, but the day following he died.

My plans and our expectations we shared when we first got engaged where never going to be the same with such a huge lack of presence from someone with such a huge role to play in this. Instead of it being a continuation of our battle to work out how to do this, how to not let dad “steal our thunder”, we realised we had to focus on what the point and purpose was and that was the love. Our love for each other and our commitment to each other to stick it out through the shit times just as much as enjoy and celebrate the awesome ones together and eloping for us, well there could have been no better way to honour that than the way we did.

 

Tips if you want to elope:

Do something that is very “you guys”.. this was us, if a picnic and a registry office is you guys, do that… focus on what it is for you, the people getting married.

Do it in the “off season” or “off day” to get the best of the best at the best price, you’re not competing with others and contract work on a down day is like a win to someone in that kind of field, like us you might even be lucky and score some discounts.

This is just my personal take, but if you have someone you are worried might be upset, like for me it was my mum, I told her with enough advance warning she knew before it happened to be as respectful as I could, but within a short enough time frame that I was still gonna do it regardless (I think I called her day before, like casual as, just after we landed and arrived at Mission Beach, “hey mum, we are all here safe, by the way, we are actually going to get married while we are here, I hope that doesn’t upset you?”)

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Making it about you and being respectful of others isn’t mutually exclusive.. I spent a lot of time talking to my Mum and sister and bridesmaids on my phone on my wedding day too!

Keep true to whats important to you. As I mentioned my dad walking me down the aisle was a kicker for me, it truly was. But having someone to say “holy fuck I am wearing a wedding dress and about to walk down the aisle” mattered to me big time and I did that on the phone with both my sister and my mum before I walked out the bedroom I was getting dressed in… Sometimes we can’t get what we want in life, but sometimes, maybe even often, there is a reason and a silver lining we see later that makes sense as to why..

 

 

 

When James and I talked about this today, there were two things be both said almost at the same time, firstly, “man I am grateful and glad with the way we did end up doing it” and also, “shit we still never organised that ‘home reception’ for all the people we were meant to invite either” hahah

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Our engagement party, December 2010

 

That’s ok, it was four years from our engagement party until our wedding day, it will be our third wedding anniversary this year, so by that time frame, I have at least another good year or so to go before I need to do that right?! ❤

 

So with renewed hope after speaking to a dear friend and “bridesmaid” from way back about this today and James and I continuing discussions maybe we should actually have a “wedding party” as we planned, I am not going to share too many, my dreams of being able to share them first with the people we love in persona as a way of them experiencing our magic day too are not yet given up on 😉 But here are a few more fav’s…

 

 

Photo credit Matthew Evan Photography – https://www.facebook.com/cairnsphotography

All services and support provided through Castaways Resort & Spa, Mission Beach Queensland – https://www.facebook.com/CastawaysMissionBeach/

Including hair and makeup ladies from the beautiful on site Drift Day Spa – https://www.facebook.com/DriftDaySpaMissionBeach/

Thanks to all of you for making our special day about us that extra bit more magical xx

 

 


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The top 5 good & bad things to fracturing your ribs as a mum

Its been a hard time with anniversaries and injuries and all the rest of it for me and I needed to take a break from sulking and feeling sorry for myself and try find a silver lining and some fun to this situation I’ve found myself in, so I called in a friend… This was after I had to the big girl brave thing and put my hand up publically on facebook and say please help friends!

Ii wasn’t so much for me, but I was worried about my husband and kids, I had to say “help guys, I can’t support my kids and husband at the moment and I need your help”.  Being the primary caregiver is one thing, taking full care of the kids night and day while your wife is hiding away to heal in a separate dwelling is quite another.. ‘

And our beautiful friends stepped up. One cam over with her kids to help James entertain the boys, another brought a massive load of groceries and pre-packaged meal options over to help him feed us all. I am massively grateful.

And I’ve enjoyed my time out, don’t get me wrong but yesterday my doctor told me I needed to take at least a minimum of three more weeks off “all work activities”, well… I am a mum to two pre-schoolers and a business owner.. I can’t even process or in any way “action” that kind of statement and the kids don’t accept medical certificates as a reason not to climb on me..

So when my friend came over to check on me, not James and the kids, well she found me in a sulky state to say the least.. We’ve been through a lot together, she knew I needed to highlight the silver linings for myself and then flowers arrived on my doorstep (of my secret little healing den I have created in our separate dwelling) and we decided while there was definitely a list of “downsides” to fracturing several ribs as a mum and business owner, there where certainly some upsides too… So here they are, my top five least and most favourite things about having an accident causing “severe rib fractures”…

 

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(First of all starting with a disclaimer, this is my experience and my story of fracturing several ribs in an accident as a mum, this will not, nor should it be the same for every mum, it is meant to be light hearted please take it with a grain of salt)…

But here are my five top least favourite things about fractured ribs:

  1. No sudden movements: that means sex, moving quickly of any kind, chasing wayward kids, all this kind of action normally taken for granted, off the table my friend… I tried, it hurts.. Don’t do it…
  2. Any kind of diaphragm activity; breathing, coughing, sneezing, laughing, crying, hiccupping.. it is all agony, to be avoided it at all costs…
  3. Restricted movement; from how you lay or get out of bed, getting dressed, everything… even for example, I couldn’t reach my glass of wine while writing this point and needed the seven month pregnant Amanda who is also not currently known for her swift movements, (hello seven months pregnant) to get it for me cause it hurt too much for me to reach it…
  4. Loss of independence – beyond not being able to reach things for myself, I can’t really drive and/or have regular range of movements and have gone from generally someone who cared for others (my kids) to someone who needs caring from others.. that’s a bit of a hard pride thing to suck up..
  5. Quiet time – this appears on the positives list too but I miss being around my kids, this time of year is meant to be about hanging out with them and having summer adventures, but last time I did even hang with my kids for an hour, Jai unintentionally head butted me in the sternum and Josh ran into me head butting me square in the chest, I need space to heal but it’s easy to get lonely too.. Again for friends like Amanda who help me keep sane and keep me company during this time I am eternally grateful..

 

And my oh my, there are pretty clear silver lining to this dish destiny served me that are evident already and thanks again to Amanda for helping me see the lighter side, so here is my top five favourite things about fractured ribs…

  1. Sleeping without kids… we cosleep, I have blogged before about my struggles to sleep with restless kids and feel rested myself, the 100% legitimate reason (I’m on pain meds temporarily that mean I can’t cosleep with you) has been the boundary all of us needed, me included, to just hide for night in a separate space (my poor husband – I don’t know how I will cope with interrupted sleep again when we go back to normal!! Eeek!)
  2. Pain meds – just like being alone they are both a blessing and a cure, every time I try to do some work my brain is just too foggy, forcing me to write for the love of it or paint… things you are kinda meant to do when healing and relaxing I guess but for a workaholic like me, these bad boys enforce it.. and I can’t skip them or that whole diaphragm activity agony is just too much to deal with so…
  3. Quiet, healing time – holistic shit, you know the whole package… its like a dream to have a reason to have time to ourselves long enough to deal with looking after us I’m sure for most of us… I am reminded of that scene in Bad Mom’s where she fantasises about being in a car crash, just mild one, but enough to leave her in hospital for a few days… yeah there is an element of that haha
  4. Me time – self-care is so bloody hard for us to prioritise to ourselves right.. even if people support you to make time for it, if you are anything like me it always comes bottom of the list. Yeah well, right now it can’t and while I could break out into song here (and did while discussing this in person with Amanda), I guess all that’s needed is “what about me?!”
  5. In a completely non materialistic sense, but presents! Christmas is about the kids right? Birthdays as an adult, well if its not a big milestone, you get some messages on your phone and fb page and that’s it… being injured? Fuck I got flowers for the first time in ages while Amanda was here from other generous friends of ours looking out for me. The focus on me, that’s not something intrinsically comfortable as a mum and in no other situation bar one where I am literally physically limited in my capacity and cant help with the kids, would I put myself first in the same way.. As James keeps reminding me, if I don’t take the time to heal, it will cause more “time off” or away from the kids later so I need to, its in all our best interests…

In the meantime I will focus on the top five favourites not the least favs, but don’t any of ya go throwing yourself down stairs to get a sleep alone at night (I don’t think it would have had such spectacular results had I tried plan it btw)…

Use your tribes support when they offer it, remember self care is important, remember to remind yourself that.. ❤


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To Andy, on what would have been your 40th birthday

 

Happy birthday dude.

Happy 40th. Fucking 40, that’s all. That’s how old you were meant to be today.

But you’re not, you’re not here and you haven’t been for a while. There are times when it still hasn’t sunk in you know.

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There are times that James and I look at each other when something poignant happens and go “just wait till we can tell Andy” before the smiles drop from our faces and one of us reminds the other that we can’t.

I have so many memories and stories I could bust out here. At the moment I am sitting not far from the last place I saw you. The last time you came over before we never saw you again was in this cottage.

It was a night-time visit and the kids were asleep and I didn’t want you to wake them. You were always so loud, larger than life-those aspects of your gregarious personality where my favourites bit I was in “mum-mode” and “don’t you dare wake those kids I just battled to sleep” mode.

I remember watching you and James talk here in the cottage and thinking, “fuck, sending you guys down there only cost me the opportunity of talking to you too”. I remember in that moment and many, many times since thinking, I wish I didn’t do that. We never had the chance to see you again after that.

And it wasn’t much longer than that I got that fateful phone call from Katie. We knew something must have happened as both James and I had a few missed calls from people. But we had no idea. Nothing prepares you for those calls.

But as soon as Katie answered and spoke, it hit me. She had the same nature to her voice as Mum had when she called about Dad. That tone, that quality to it that was of someone having to tell someone else something completely heart-breaking when they hadn’t yet got themselves around the words yet.

Unlike the call from mum which I can remember almost word for word what was said, I can’t with Katie. Of course my heart sank and on her behalf too when she told me you had died but it was my heart skipping a few beats-just stopping momentarily when I thought of Eden. Your beautiful little girl Eden.

I was in my mid-twenties when my dad died, she’s just a little girl. And I’m sure some of my thoughts and grief I felt for her where projected from my own, not that distant experience, but that confusion and shock and complete inability for her poor broken wee heart to take in the situation was just written all over her face the minute I saw her a few days later.

And even if some of it might have been projected, fuck I was glad to have thought about some of the things that pulled me through when it was my face that looked like that. When it was me who was the one who just couldn’t get over the shock that I don’t have my dad around anymore-even as unfair as it seems that other people do.

So while you had the second least ordinary and normal service and send off (and I only say second because it came after my Dad’s equally strange by normal standards, loud music blaring and photo slide shows like yours), this time was different, unlike at dads where I got into character, it was a performance, there was even a “jeans and tee” blues brothers inspired dress code that helped in that aspect haha and I had to speak!

This time ALL my attention was on Eden. As soon as the procession was made in, some music played and people started talking, she got restless. It’s a really hard thing little people at funerals and I know lots of people have various takes on this.

I remember with conversations about this on “mummy groups” that at some funerals there may be outside expectations that it wouldn’t be appropriate for children to be present, particularly little ones – but I guess ones view on that probably depends on how they view funerals and what the purpose is. And yours, well it featured the breakbeat music you used to DJ and mix and a lot like dads, it was a true celebration of your life and your friends and family did you proud.

Beyond that though, I have always believed children should be included in these rituals and events- to not let them be part of it may rob them of the opportunity for closure and peace that they have had the chance to say some goodbyes in some sense, even if it is later on in their journeys and lives that they gain appreciation for it.

Anyway I did the one thing that sure helped me when I couldn’t cope and I was 26, but it didn’t matter because the thing that helped most was bubbles. I wish I could say this was the only time in 2016 I found myself focused on a group of children (my sons peers) with one of their parents now dead and tried to shield the youth of the room somewhat from the shock and sorrow of the adults around them with bubbles, but it wasn’t.

See to me it’s important for them to be there, but I have also many times been that child at a funeral with the overwhelming sense that something horrible I didn’t understand was happening and also, “why is no one telling me anything?!”

So, bubbles.

Just blowing bubbles. Because I have had to stipulate this in times before I will again here now. I mean good old fashioned soapy water bubbles, not champagne.

You can learn a lot about life and death and magic and faith and the beauty of the world from bubbles.

The ephemeral nature. The various sizes and shapes and colours. The fact they both appear and disappear again like magic. The unpredictability. Even just the deep breath you have to take to blow them in the first place.

Bubbles. That’s always been my first solution to overwhelming grief.

So we blew bubbles, who doesn’t fucking love bubbles? I mean if I ever meet someone who doesn’t like bubbles, I would be very interested in their life story – I can’t think of a reason someone could hate bubbles!

Anyway, I digress, we blew bubbles for you. Lots of us looked out for both Katie and Eden for you and lots of us continue to do so. I hope they realise how many of us will forever do that for them and for you because you did so much for all of us.

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And I know you would have then and today too feel soo fucking proud of them. We are too. And it wasn’t even a year ago we lost you.

But today’s your birthday, and it’s a big one.

One of the milestone ones we were meant to get inappropriately wasted for, one we were meant to be loud and talk shit and be obnoxious, as long as it was kind, no one was getting hurt and its fun, let’s do it – lets push the fucking boundaries.

Cause we saw the world the same way-like a big fucking party that shouldn’t be taken too seriously all the time.

Man I am currently reliving some amazing memories and stories from someone else’s head line grabbing 40th birthday party not that many years back which we all shared together!

We have been thinking and talking about you a lot lately too. Some of the stuff I cope flack for in life, for being high energy, fast paced, in ya face, “larger than life”- they were all character traits we shared.

They were the lessons passed to me by my grandfather and father, from my elders, but when I lost them, there you were. Helping me “fight battles” when we didn’t think the people who needed to hear certain messages were listening.

There you were helping me reassure James as I helped you reassure Katie that it was all good. That the way they saw the problem, the way they viewed the world was true and valid and needed to be a complimentary one and for balance, but the way we saw it was all good too.

And while I remember they were continuing conversations about the really heavy stressful shit we were all going through together-you and I proceeded to pretend to race the giant stuffed dinosaurs of Josh’s while Eden and Josh laughed their heads off and started pushing us off to have their own turns.

Just to change the mood. To remember the fun.

And I miss that person to have those times with me now. I miss the people who balanced my crazy way of viewing the world cause they are all “up there” or wherever the fuck your spirits go or whatever.

So tell my Dad, I can clearly remember the mayhem his 40th birthday was – god that’s another story completely- but can you tell him, I expect him to do even better for you today because we can’t and that, well that’s really hard. For all of us.

And me, well with my fractured fucking ribs even blowing bubbles hurts, but that’s what I’ll be doing, even if I can’t be with Eden and am still hiding away from my own family and the world in my little recovery hut. I’ll be blowing bubbles and thinking of you and all the stories and experiences we shared that I could never put into writing!

And we will, like normal, have a tequila shot in your honour my friend-just don’t tell my doctor 😉

Happy birthday buddy – miss ya loads

Jess x

 

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The Skylight Trust page has sooo many better resources than a simple bubbles answer by the way and they provide an amazing service I have called on and used for both myself and others, particularly when it comes to explaining death to children. I can’t recommend them more highly. – http://skylight.org.nz/

 

 


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New Year’s Giveaway – in memory of my Nana Maysie

I have had some amazing leaders and teachers in my life. One I dearly miss whose birthday would have been the 1st of Jan, is my Nana, my Dads mum.

It was in her memory and honour I decided to list this competition and the stories and messages shared there had me overwhelmed about just how to honour that, and you, and her and her memory.

She was born on 1st January 1933 and died just a few years ago at 81 on the 6th of Jan, 2014.

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Listed on my Facebook Pagehttps://www.facebook.com/babywearingwithjess/photos/a.615547578588220.1073741828.600756476733997/829527297190246/?

I remember calling her for her birthday, that last one she had and when I got off the phone, I just burst into tears.

“Is she ok?” James asked.

“She said so, but she always says so. But it didn’t sound like her. It didn’t sound like Nana.” I cried into his arms.

We were staying at my Mums house and she and James sat me down with a glass of wine over lunch and talked me through it. “She’s old Jess, she’s been unwell. I know you are close to her but you need to prepare yourself for the inevitable…”

I mean Nan had been ‘preparing’ herself for years. Every visit back she had sold or given away yet another piece of furniture or something and downgraded it. She told me, my sister and my cousin it was so we wouldn’t have to worry about getting rid of it later.

My Nana was an amazing lady. She was so well loved and admired. She put up with shit most of us would never dream off. And even with us kids even at our most trying, the worst she would say is “go fly a kite”. It was her version of “I am so fucking frustrated right now and want to scream at you but instead I am going to breathe deeply and tell you to go away nicely”.

 

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My Nana’s 60th birthday on New Years Day in Canberra, (from L-R) Kate (my sister), Dad, Mum, Me & Nana – Kate & I were so hung over we missed the first flight to the party haha

 

I haven’t yet mastered that one but she told me once, “I think we make better grandparents than we do even as parents in life” so I am holding out hope for myself yet!

She and my grandfather were a formidable pair who did so much for the communities around them by working together (much like my own parents and the World of Difference award but that’s a separate story in itself, I did put a video link here though if you are keen to see below which mum downplays her role in for the record). But it is my grandparents I have been thinking about lately…

 

When Nana died we all went down to clear her house and prepare for the funeral and such (a process I know too well as apparently I just know a lot of people who have died) and found a few small folders of my grandfather’s stories she had kept. Actually I knew exactly where she kept it as I had regularly made her pull it out on all my visits.

It wasn’t’ stories he had written himself but a collection of varied stories from all over the world, different religious texts and some colloquial ones or stories of different cultures. He was a story teller my grandfather, but I knew him as a Unity Church minister and my Nana as a nurse and heavily involved with many different charities and organisations, one of them including the Unity Church.

When I asked my Aunty Sue for more details, well the list of just how many groups my Nana was involved with right up until her death speaks for itself really. But she started he life working on her Dads farm and it was when she started her nursing training that she meet my grandfather. She really wanted her Dad to walk her down the aisle (who doesn’t, my sister and I missed out on that one too) but he was very ill and it did look like he would last till she finished her training for when they had planned their wedding.

Her and my grandfather moved their wedding forward by eight months or so (my Nana’s dad actually died just six weeks later) and so she had to drop out of college as that’s how things worked at the time. My grandfather was still finishing his theology studies and was also told he couldn’t get married while studying as well. His dean of college said it would be too distracting to be married (meaning because they could have sex and wouldn’t be living in sin and all that) and my Pa told him it was far more distracting waiting.

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So they married, I think in March of 1958 and it was my grandfather who took charge of setting up the reception venue because my grandmother had to help her dad finish the sheep dipping before the wedding.

After they got married they became missionaries in a small New South Wales town called Hay, where my Dad was born. It was a role called “Inland Missionaries”, they were waiting for my grandfather’s registration as a Minister for the NSW Methodist church. He was refused and so they set off to South Australia where he better fit the entry requirements.

As soon as he was qualified in SA and was assigned his first post, my Nana always ran the women’s fellowship meetings and supported my grandfather in his support role for the local community as well as focusing on raising my Dad, his sister and their brother (thanks again to my dad’s little sister, my Aunty Sue for filling in some gaps here and digging up some photos for me).

 

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My Dad as a baby in 1959

 

All of my elders have been progressive and ahead of their times, my Nana was the committee secretary for a group recognising gay rights in the church (this was a long time ago-it had a name that had something about justice?). She was also a strong supporter of groups helping refugees settling in Australia. She ALWAYS donated to world vision. Her and my grandfather and another couple they were close friends with set up Lifeline in Broken Hill.

In her later years she volunteered with a different kind of call centre support which called people who lived alone or were elderly or otherwise at risk and just made sure they were ok. She was always involved with services like Meals on Wheels, in fact I can remember doing a few support runs with my mum and grandmother for that cause as a young kid myself. She worked with and supported the Kidney foundation and Motor Neuron Disease Association visiting, talking and supporting people.

I spent time with them when they where living in Taiwan working for big companies like DuPount as a developer or coach in the area of social/cultural models. This is all stuff I am only just beginning to learn about now! I had no idea what they were up to in Taiwan..

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Which is funny cause I spent like a two months living with them there at the time while my parents traveled Asia, but I guess I wasn’t paying attention to that kind of thing and its was like the late 80’s so… this was me at the time…

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When her and my grandfather were posted in Stirling they worked hard together to support bush fire relief efforts. They even bought a few caravans to help rehome people – but they didn’t make it common knowledge, it wasn’t something done for praise or recognition. My Aunty Sue shared a gem that Nan had told her when she asked why they didn’t tell anyone, my Nana said, “That isn’t the point. The doing is for someone else, the telling is for you-you need to work our why you are doing your good deed, for you or for others”.

She was also a nurse despite never formally finishing her training (rules were different back then!) and she also took five years off her age for her whole professional career! She was a matron of a nursing home and worked in aged care, even just supporting and nursing those in the wee retirement village established to support life members of the church like her, right up until her death.

I was always very close with my Nana, even when I was a young girl. I have many, many fond memories but in a bitter sweet tragic way – we got to share something more than a lot of people I know may have had a chance to do with their grandparents.

In 2010, my dad died. Her son.

She had not only buried two husbands but now she was having to do the same for her son.

 

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Nana and Dad in 2002

This, like lots of us, totally took her by surprise and left her heartbroken. I remember in her grief her saying to me, “sure you might have to bury husbands and friends, that’s hard but that’s life, but it’s not fair to bury your child.”

It was near the end of 2011 and I had been throwing myself into work, almost trying to escape the loss of my dad. At least desperately trying to search like a mad man for the “silver lining”.

I was copying (well kind of) with my Dad not being around but I wasn’t ‘dealing’ with it. I wasn’t processing my loss. I was feeling lost and made myself sick in such a state and got to the point where I was like, “I just want to go to Nana’s!”

And so I did. As a 26 year old. I just went and stayed at my Nans for over a month. We tried to heal together. We relived things, she told me stories about Dad and Pa. She took me on road trips to places they had lived and worked before. I learned so much from her in that time.

We bonded so much in that time. There is something to be said about the intensity of a shared experience that isn’t comfortable or “normal” that brings a deeper closeness to that relationship.

Anyway as I have mentioned before, anniversaries and rituals are something we have really thought about and discussed for our family as we are aware it will shape our children’s understanding and experiences of these things, as well as our own.

And unfortunately for me, I have quite a list of loved ones that did/do (I’m never sure of the appropriate tense in these settings) but they mean the world to me, just like my kids do and while I was lucky to introduce Josh, my eldest son, to my Nana once before she passed, she will just like my Dad and grandfather, only ever be a story or character to my kids, not someone they will have the chance to know in the current physical realm.

 

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Nana Maysie & Josh (almost one year old) end of 2013

 

 

So when it comes to anniversaries for my grandfather, I share some of his stories by reading them aloud, in his eccentric, largely exaggerated gesture style to the boys and James, geez anyone who will listen, or just aloud to myself. It’s not too hard to get an audience though, many of his stories where very kid friendly, we as his grandchildren has the same ones read to us by him at the age my kids are now…

Like this, The Little Dog… (don’t laugh at my poor attempt at telling this, my grandfather was much better at it than me! My Aunty assures me its because I haven’t added the characters to it right yet :P) – listen here at you’re own peril hahaha – https://soundcloud.com/user-520072466/sets/stories 

For my Dad, I know he would want us to share the element of fun and adventure, remember him but not dwell on the loss of him. So we make paper boats and send them out to sea in various water ways while we talk about all the cool and crazy adventures I had with him as a kid and what he would have loved to experience with the boys now.

 

 

Paper boats for Grahame Maher 3 years on, before his grandsons first birthday celebrations! from Jess Maher on Vimeo.

 

 

I want to try and maintain a positive aspect to loss, not just for myself but my kids. The stories are the only way they will know their ancestors.

But when it comes to my Nana, well I don’t know I really had a “her way” to celebrate and remember her for those ‘hard dates’ and I wanted to think of something that captured her spirit and essence and what she would want me to establish as the way we remember her.

And of course, it had to be something about helping others. When my Aunty Sue said “Mums big thing was always to look out for others and to relieve their pain/suffering or hard work” well that really summed it up for me.

But I’ve been struggling to “draw a winner” for this New Year’s Giveaway in her honour and now I know it’s because that style, of like “announcing one” just wouldn’t be her thing.

She would want me to help as many people as I could but she would also not want to make a fuss about it. “Consider why you’re doing the good deed”…

So also because I have fractured several ribs and am on some seriously kick arse pain meds so my brain is fuzzy – I’m going to take my time getting in touch with “winners”. And I am going to do it via PM, so there won’t be an “announcement” here and my contact might not even be immediate…

And I know there are at least one or two other awesome people and brand that want to help me make some new years wishes come true so I will keep you posted and make sure I give a big ups and shout out to them, but yep, this was is being drawn in different styles for a change 😛 so if there are more awesome people who want to help me out, keep the PM’s coming 😉

In an ideal world I would hope to talk to all of those people nominated and who posted there as I was very moved and touched by your stories. But even if I can’t get to you all, I hope you do realise you already brought a wee bit of a positive boost to the start of 2017 for both you and the person you nominated (if applicable) because you acknowledged the hard shit from 2016 and validates the struggle then put it out to the universe that you hoped 2017 would be more positive.

So I hope it is, for all of us!

Happy New Year,

Jess x


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Comparisons to child birth- is it the same as a kick in the nuts…?

 

There is this fascination to comparing levels of pain to childbirth.

“Does it hurt more than giving birth??” I was asked yesterday…. Ummm…

 

Look this concept is a little bit fuct to me in the first place as for my last labour I put a lot of time and effort into concepts of hypnobirthing and replacing words like “pain” to “intensity” in my mind, much like I did “wave” or “tightening” in lieu of “contraction”, so for me, the overwhelming memories of my last labour weren’t ones overly focused on being painful at all.

 

Sure it was fucken intense. There were definitely moments of pain and discomfort (mainly the bumps on the drive to the hospital and the nurse making me sit still to put in the line for a blood transfusion in case I needed it as a pre-emptive move as I haemorrhaged post birth with Josh). But mainly it was just intense.

 

But like when you have an ecstasy pill at some party in your twenties and you don’t really know what to do with all the energy and intensity going through your body. And it’s overwhelming as fuck and you need someone to rub your back and tell you “it’s ok. It’s all ok”. And give you water and take you away from the dance party to somewhere more quiet and chilled…

 

Except maybe in the birth example, the shower & some essential oils or whatever your happy place is and some gas and air is probably more appropriate…

 

And when I hear the comparison to being kicked in the nuts, well I’m not sure it’s even the same “centre” of intensity… I’m hypothesising here and obviously I could never truly know as I don’t have testicles. But, I’ve been thinking about pain and injury and “intensity” and how that is effected by which chakra it occurs closest to.

 

So in the case of the birth example, again I am just hypothesising based off my own experience, but when I think of the “chakra of intensity” it was located around my womb, as it was largely for the most part of my labour the womb itself “contracting” or “tightening” if you will.. To me, that seems to be located more around the sacral chakra.

 

When I read in this book that the element for this chakra was water that totally made sense to me. All of my visualisations for birth revolved around water, most of Jai’s labour was spent in the bath or shower.

 

Also the connection of this chakra to the adrenals as the endocrine gland associated made sense to me in terms of what I know to be key to the birthing process in terms of hormones and stress impacts and all that jazz.

 

My point is, despite not having “nuts”, I would assume “pain” or “intensity” in that area could be more likely to be located in the base chakra, where the endocrine gland is the testes/ovaries…

 

But that is just a guess and me pondering anyhow…

 

What I do know is that I was thinking about this concept and considering reading and learning more about chakras for a while now. Long before I munted my ribs in this accident..

 

It was actually open for some reason on the laptop screen in the kitchen on day a few weeks back, just the Wikipedia page for chakras which had the picture that depicted seven points indicated by light.

 

 

Josh asked, “what’s that a picture of?”

 

I was engrossed in another activity when I heard James reply, “oh that’s a picture about chakras, I don’t really know much about them… I know they have different names… hmmm” as he was quickly trying to skim read the Wikipedia page trying to find a way to sum up extensive ancient teaching and wisdom in a way that made it still potentially interesting to a curious four year old.

 

In our house we don’t prescribe to a particular faith or religion but we are almost the opposite to what many people think of when that statement is made. In a way, we prescribe to all of them but just a little bit, but I guess the bush, nature, that’s our temple.

 

Anyway, we’ve always been open to many different takes on faith and interpretations on the way the world works.

 

When I heard Josh and James mention chakras I instinctively turned around and said, “well I don’t really remember the names for them but this one at the bottom is about this…” and ran through my “idiots guide” which probably butchered all proper and through meaning but surprised even myself that I had some concept of all of them.

 

And when I got to the last one, I justified it with a, “ummm, at least, I THINK that’s what they all mean…” and went back to what I was doing.

 

James stood a little wide eyed for a few moments and said, “Wow babe, I had no idea you knew so much about chakras! Where do you know all that from?”

 

“Um, maybe an xbox game I had about meditation years ago? Hahaha I dunno!”

 

But the experience set my resolve again to explore this concept more. My interest grew again.

 

And then I fuct my ribs. I was saying to my friend, “it feels like I’ve hurt myself properly, like right in the heart chakra, you know..?”

 

And being the open minded, wise beyond her years, lived through more than her fair share of stuff self, she didn’t bat an eyelid. She was like, “yep, and now you have to heal all of it for six weeks.”

 

“Ohh, well, pfht, do you have a book about chakras then?!” I replied.

 

And she pulled out this.

 

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The Chakra Bible by Patricia Mercier.

 

I read it for half an hour, had tagged and bookmarked everywhere and truly do think there is something to this whole concept of focusing on the chakra close to the “hurt” or “intensity” when healing…

 

Fuck it probably even has some new age term or name – if it does,  I don’t know it, but why would I? I only just started reading this one book about chakras now?! Hahaha

 

It’s a belief shaped through thousands of years with history from numerous cultures and religions which I am just starting to learn about…

 

But in answer to the question, does giving birth even remotely resemble being kicked in the nuts, or even smashing several ribs for that matter?

 

Not even remotely if you ask me.

 

Again I can’t talk for the nuts situation but this pain in my ribs is heaps worse than childbirth. And there isn’t the awesome hormone roller coaster to ride or the little person at the end of it.

 

Just pain and discomfort, popping when I breathe and feeling incapable of supporting my husband to care for our kids. Thank god for support networks and all our generous and loving friends who have stepped up to offer us help.

 

Not quite the way I planned to “launch myself into the New Year” but feeling grateful never the less.

And again No, being kicked in the nuts is not comparable to birthing a baby.. Just in case you missed that part 😉